The Boyle Street Community Services’ warming bus will be on the streets of Edmonton after all this winter, thanks to a donation from the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation (RAHF).
The foundation made a $61,500 donation this week, which makes up the rest of the bus’ annual operating budget.
“This is a fantastic day,” Boyle Street executive director Julian Daly said. “It’s a really warming story. Sometimes the world can seem a bit bleak, especially in the winter, but I think this story reminds us of the good nature and the good hear of so many Edmontonians and that they do care about the folks that we serve.”
The 15-seat bus provides food, clothing and other support services to the city’s homeless. Last year, about 1,300 vulnerable Edmontonians accessed services from the bus. Late last month, Boyle Street Community Services said it wouldn’t be able to operate the bus this year due to a funding shortfall.
“We were really concerned for those 1,300 people and it might be even more this year,” Daly said Thursday.
Since then, Boyle Street has received a lot of support, even from members of the community donating whatever they can to get the bus back up and running.
“You can’t live in this city and not understand the impact of winter,” Daly explained.
“I think even those of us who are lucky enough to have homes and comfort know that it can be pretty tough and we also know how dangerous it can be, even when you’re well wrapped up.”
Many of the clients Boyle Street serves end up in emergency rooms, suffering the effects of the cold. The president and CEO of the RAHF said injuries vary from damage to their feet to cold-induced illnesses.
“Having an opportunity for these people that have no place to go to get warmth, food, transportation to inner-city shelters and connections with the support services in the community, including our hospital, is so critically important,” Andrew Otway said.
Since 1971, Boyle Street Community Services has been working to support vulnerable Edmontonians in the inner city through dozens of programs. The organization serves over 9,000 people every year.
Watch below: On Nov. 4, 2017, Julia Wong filed this report about how busy Edmonton’s social agencies are now that frigid weather has hit the city.